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The early part of this year saw haircare take a hit

Haircare sales in 2020 were lank to say the least. The past 12 months, however, have seen a considerable slowdown in the category’s value decline. Shampoo, conditioner and styling products have shed £34.6m between them – a considerable improvement on the £58.1m loss in last year’s Top Products report.

The early part of this year saw haircare take a hit as lockdowns and home working gave Brits less incentive to care for their personal appearance. But the category began to show renewed promise in the spring, notes NielsenIQ senior analyst Sara Timms. “All sectors are seeing growth from April 2021 onwards as restrictions eased and salons reopened. This looks set to stay.”

Shampoo, the largest sector at £393.1m, has been buoyed by the performance of Head & Shoulders, which has added £3.8m on volumes up by 5.2%. The brand has also boomed  in conditioner, growing value by 13.5% on volumes up by 15.1%.


Timms attributes this success to increased distribution and a drop in average price that “is prompting higher demand among consumers as they focus their range on nourishing and moisturising the hair, favouring natural ingredients such as argan and coconut oil”.

This demand for added benefits has also helped drive much-needed gains in hair styling, with products catering for common hair types among BAME shoppers performing well. Timms highlights Cantu as a key brand within this trend, with its styling range up by 67.4% and its conditioner up by 18.3%. Textured hair products have been given “more shelf space, promo visibility and media airtime” she says.

Shelf space continues to be an important factor within the category, Timms adds. Retailers have been giving more visibility to smaller brands, to entice shoppers who are turning their backs on bigger brands.

“In a bid to recover losses in the sector, manufacturers have increased average prices, forcing consumers away from established names,” Timms says. However, “this isn’t affecting shampoo and conditioner as much as styling”.

Top launch 2021

Dream Lengths Wonder Water | L’Oréal


L’Oréal Elvive Dream Lengths Wonder Water conditioner promises to slake thirsty hair in just eight seconds. Designed to hydrate dry or damaged locks, the silicone-free, water-based formula offers “a weightless feel even on hair that’s ultra-fine”. Unveiled in February, Wonder Water (rsp: £9.99/200ml) has been a smash with beauty fans on TikTok. It’s illustrative of the trend towards haircare products that nourish and maintain the condition of natural hair and scalp.

The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2021: who’s up, who’s down – and our overview of the key trends